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Public Domain Sources

Internet sources for images in the public domain plus how-to-use information

Internet Archive - Moving Images

This site has indexed over 500,000 vintage (black and white) short films, trailers, cartoons, newsreels, and game videos from a variety of public-domain sources. An advanced search function and many different compression formats for downloading are available. Thumbnails are provided for previewing.

How to use:
Enter search terms in the search box at top left and use the drop-down menu at right to specify the collection to search, such as "Prelinger Archives". Click on "Advanced Search" for Boolean and range queries (scroll down that page for an explanation of these and other advanced techniques). Choose a film and then click on the appropriate streaming or downloading format for your Internet connection.

Library of Congress - Prints and Photographs Division

Over one million digitized images of United States historical interest are available here. Many are in the public domain; some are not. Most have an uncompressed TIFF file available for downloading.

How to use:
Click on "Advanced" to display more search options. Enter search terms and use the drop-down menus to limit the search to specific fields such as subject or title.

U. S. National Archives

The National Archives and Records Administration collects all the documents and materials created in the course of business conducted by the United States Federal Government. The collection includes thousands of photographs, the vast majority of which are in the public domain.

How to use:
Use the search box at the top right of the home page. Use words such as "photos" or "photograph" along with subject words such as "World War 2" or "Ansel Adams". There is also an advanced search option that appears once you've initiated a basic search. Another way to find images is by browsing the Archives' Online Exhibits.

National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration - Photo Library

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has an excellent collection of images that for the most part are in the public domain. Large file sizes are readily available. The collections include fish, animals, underwater scenes, and landscapes.

How to use:
The most effective way to use the search function is to copy and paste the following into the search box and then add your search terms. You can also find images by browsing the Photo Library Collections.

New York Public Library - Digital Gallery

The New York Public Library is one of the largest library systems in the world. The NYPL Digital Gallery offers more than 520,000 digital images of illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, vintage posters, rare prints and photographs, illustrated books, and printed ephemera. These are freely available for study and research.

How to use:
Enter title words, subject words, or any word that might be found in a picture's caption and press enter. Click on any thumbnail image in the list of results to view the full record that includes an image that can be enlarged. Use [more options] to search specific fields of the database, such as subject, caption, or title.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Digital Library System

Hundreds of images of fish and wildlife, most of which are in the public domain. Many are available as TIFF files.

How to use:
Enter search terms in the image search box and click "search" or simply press enter. Click on any thumbnail image or title for the full record including a high-resolution image.